Open Access Research article

Chronic disease prevalence and associations in a cohort of Australian men: The Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS)

Sean A Martin1, Matthew T Haren2, Anne W Taylor3, Sue M Middleton4, Gary A Wittert1* and Members of the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS)5

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Medicine, Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 5000, Australia

2 Spencer Gulf Rural Health School – Whyalla Campus, University of South Australia, Whyalla-Norrie, SA, 5608, Australia

3 Population Research and Outcome Studies Unit, Department of Health, Government of South Australia, SA, 5000, Australia

4 Department of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 5000, Australia

5 FAMAS (Florey Adelaide Male Aging Study), University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:261  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-261

Published: 30 July 2008



An increasing proportion of Australia's chronic disease burden is carried by the ageing male. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of asthma, cancer, diabetes, angina and musculoskeletal conditions and their relationship to behavioural and socio-demographic factors in a cohort of Australian men.


Self-reports of disease status were obtained from baseline clinic visits (August 2002 – July 2003 & July 2004 – May 2005) from 1195 randomly selected men, aged 35–80 years and living in the north-west regions of Adelaide. Initially, relative risks were assessed by regression against selected variables for each outcome. Where age-independent associations were observed with the relevant chronic disease, independent variables were fitted to customized multiadjusted models.


The prevalence of all conditions was moderately higher in comparison to national data for age-matched men. In particular, there was an unusually high rate of men with cancer. Multiadjusted analyses revealed age as a predictor of chronic conditions (type 2 diabetes mellitus, angina, cancer & osteoarthritis). A number of socio-demographic factors, independent of age, were associated with chronic disease, including: low income status (diabetes), separation/divorce (asthma), unemployment (cancer), high waist circumference (diabetes), elevated cholesterol (angina) and a family history of obesity (angina).


Socio-demographic factors interact to determine disease status in this broadly representative group of Australian men. In addition to obesity and a positive personal and family history of disease, men who are socially disadvantaged (low income, unemployed, separated) should be specifically targeted by public health initiatives.